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in Filmmaking
on Jul 26, 2006

Over at Talking Points Memo Cafe, Art Brodsky has a broad-strokes summary of the situation facing the net neutrality bill currently pending in the Senate. Net neutrality is a complicated issue that I’ve been erratic in blogging about, but Brodsky’s piece does bring the issue back down to its core roots.

Here’s Brodksy on the political situation:

That leads us to the first number today, 60. That’s how many votes Stevens needs to round up before he can bring his bill to the floor. Senate rules require 60 votes to cut off debate on legislation. Otherwise, practically speaking, the bill is dead. So, the Senate leadership has told Stevens he must have the votes in hand to cut off debate before the bill will be brought up for debate.

Goodness knows, the troops are on the march to achieve the 60-vote objective. The telephone companies and their allies are flooding Capitol Hill, all seeking meetings with legislative staffers. Those allies include any industries that have something favorable to them in the bill. It’s telephone companies large and small. It’s cellular companies, and cable companies. It’s the content companies which want government-mandated technology to stop fair use of TV broadcasts (the “broadcast flag” and advanced recording of music (the “audio flag). That’s a lot of firepower.

Stevens and his staff cut deals to help those people and Stevens and his staff want help in forcing the bill through. Every week, there are meetings around Washington in which the telephone companies and their lobbyists are going through check lists and planning as many meetings as they can with the sole goal of making sure a Senator will vote to cut off debate.

And here he is on what’s at stake:

The real debate is over the future of the next Google’s and Yahoo!s. Google and Yahoo! and others are fighting to protect the future of the Internet, so that the economic and regulatory conditions that fostered the original Yahoo! and the original Google will still be around, and so that entrepreneurs won’t have their business plans depend on the kindness, or lack thereof, of strangers in the telephone and cable companies.

No one is talking about heavy-handed regulation of the Internet, as some of the anti-Net Neutrality ads claim.

For our next-to-last number, we can’t even estimate the number of companies that either won’t start or would be shut down before they get off the ground unless solid non-discrimination rules are put in place – the kind that were in place until last September and the kind that allowed the Internet to grow and to flourish.

But read the whole piece for the complete picture.

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